When writing about offensive line play, I generally reach out to coaches, front-office guys or team scouts. I also frequently turn to Matt Williamson from Scouts Inc. and a certain long-time NFL scout and personnel chief, who retired to Florida a few years back and likes to get together with me every now and then to play a little racquetball and sit around and talk some football.
I take that approach because the play of offensive lines can be hard to quantify and I like to rely on the eyes of people who know what they're talking about. But, from time to time, I come across some stuff that attempts to quantify offensive line play and here's one I just became aware of and it looks pretty reasonable and accurate.
It's focused on pass protection and that's obviously a huge part of an offensive line's role in the modern NFL. In the latest New York Life Protection Index, two NFC South teams rank in the top five.
No surprise here, they also are the two teams that rank first in the NFC South standings. The latest ratings have the New Orleans offensive line at No. 2 and Atlanta's at No. 4.
You need to scroll down further to find the other two NFC South offensive lines. Tampa Bay is No. 19, which is one more reason I keep saying Josh Freeman has carried a team that, relatively speaking, isn't all that talented.
In perhaps the biggest surprise of all, we finally found some sort of poll, ranking or statistical category in which the Carolina Panthers aren't last in the league. Instead, they are No. 30.